CIHS Presents: Seward’s Follies — The Life and Legacy of William H. Seward
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CIHS Presents: Seward’s Follies — The Life and Legacy of William H. Seward

This event has ended. It was scheduled for 5/16/2024.

7 p.m. Thursday, May 16

Auditorium or Online via Crowdcast

In-Person and Online Event

On William Henry Seward’s 223rd birthday, the Cook Inlet Historical Society presents a program of songs, instrumental music, and dramatic readings exploring Seward’s complicated-but-undeniable role in Alaska history. Seward acknowledged that his years of public service and numerous political positions would be overshadowed by the 1867 treaty, with Russia ceding its claim of Alaska territory to the U.S. Despite the treaty’s initial popularity within the U.S., the powerful negative cartoons and clever slogans of the opposition overtook the public’s collective memory. Seward’s legacy is inseparable with cries of Alaska as “Seward’s Folly”, “Seward’s Icebox”, or “Seward’s Farm”. Some newspaper editorials even called for Alaska to become a penal colony, and nations abroad were wary of U.S. expansionism and its Russian alliance.

This free, one-hour lecture/performance explores Seward’s biography and the reception of the 1867 treaty. Hear music composed for William Seward and directly inspired by early misconceptions of Alaska. Learn about Seward's complex and often non-linear relationship to American Manifest Destiny, the abolition of slavery, the muddy evolution of 19th century political parties, and his role as Secretary of State during the Civil War and early Reconstruction. Enjoy performances by area thespians and musicians, including program host Kate Egan, soprano Mari Hahn, and the Shake City String Band — an Alaska quintet specializing in symphonic folk fusion. The producer and coordinator for this event is Laura Koenig. Laura is a member of the Cook Inlet Historical Society Board of Directors, artistic director for Anchorage Festival of Music, and an adjunct professor in the Music department at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

This is the last event in the Cook Inlet Historical Society’s 2023-2024 Speaker Series. These presentations are virtual, free, and open to the public via Crowdcast; the same link can be used to review the recorded event after the program conclusion. Free and open to the public. Please use the museum’s 7th Avenue entrance.

Image credits: Henry Farmer, Farmer's Alaska Diamond Mazurka, Memphis: E. A, Benson,1872. Notated Music. Library of Congress, Music Division: 


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